Clannad – Shepherds Bush Empire

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Can’t find any video from the night, but this is from a show in Nottingham a couple of days earlier.

Why this gig?

I’ve never been a massive Clannad fan. The only album I own is the Past Present compilation that seemed to be the soundtrack of every dinner party I was invited to in 1990.

However, I was a massive fan of Mary Black at about the same time. I have many of her albums. So when I heard that she was supporting Clannad on this tour, I decided it would be worth seeing.


The tour was actually billed as “Clannad and Mary Black” so it might be completely fair to describe her as the support act. But I’d bet that she went on first every night. Clannad are obviously the much bigger name on the bill. As I mentioned above, I own a number of her albums and before going to the gig I listened to a few of them for the first time for many years. And I can’t really understand why I used to enjoy them so much. It’s true that she has a great voice, but she chooses to waste it on such dull songs. Live, it’s no better. She sings one song – “Bright Blue Rose” – that I enjoy, but the rest of it is really uninteresting.


Clannad are far more interesting. Some of their stuff veers dangerously close to New Age noodlings at times, but there’s still far more traditional Irish music here than there is on all of Mary Black’s albums put together.

They have a new album out – their first for fifteen years and the set is slightly marred by their insistence on playing a lot of it. The new music is in pretty much the same vein as the old songs, but it’s clearly the older stuff that the audience have come to hear. You probably can’t ever describe a Clannad gig as “getting going”, but the audience certainly seem far more engaged towards the end when the better-known stuff comes out. There’s a section where they play of lot of their soundtrack music – “I Will Find You” (from Last of the Mohicans) is followed by a suite of music from Robin Hood and the theme from Harry’s Game.

I enjoyed the show. But I’m not sure I’ll be rushing back to see them every time they pass through London.

And I was really disappointed that they didn’t play “Newgrange”.

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